St. Mary’s Catholic School was the first school within Diocese of Spokane to be accredited by the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA) and the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC). The staff wrote their first self study in 1992 and received a full term of accreditation and have received full accreditation since then.
Speaking as one who has been through the accreditation process as a teacher, an administrator, a visiting team member and a team chair person – Accreditation is a lot of work! It is a lot of work, but it is worth the effort because it allows a school to take a good look at itself in the areas of School Mission and Philosophy, Governance, School Leadership, Staff, School Environment, Reporting Student Progress, School Improvement, What Students Learn, How Students Learn, How Assessment is Used, Student Connectedness, Parent/Community Involvement, Resource Management and Development. A section of the self-study, written by the school staff addresses each one of those elements. In addition, after a school has been through an accreditation process once, the visiting team leaves the school with a list of critical areas of growth to be addressed. A report on progress on these areas is submitted to the NWAC/WCEA each year, and is summarized in the next self study.
The Accreditation process is a valuable tool because it enables a school to take a good look at where they are, identify areas of growth, and then accountably work toward those areas. St. Mary’s efforts in the area of accreditation are to be commended.